Dr. John W. Ray of Montana Tech’s Liberal Studies Department has had a paper entitled “Private Reasons versus Public Reasons: Religion and Politics” accepted for presentation next spring at the Seventh International Conference on Religion and Spirituality in Society to be held at the Imperial College London—London, UK.
In the paper, Dr. Ray contends that in deliberating about matters of public policy, public reasons, i.e. reasons that are publicly verifiable, are preferable to private reasons, i.e. reasons that are based in private beliefs or ideology, as a justification for a particular policy choice. Ideologies, such as religious ideologies, often provide only private reasons for public actions. Basing public policy on private reasons is inimical to pubic deliberation which is the basis of liberal democratic political ideology.
Focusing on the political thought of Kant, Habermas and Rawls, this paper investigates what happens when private reasons are argued to be the primary basis of public actions. The clash between public and private reasons accounts for much of the dysfunctional public discourse evidenced today.
Dr. Ray teaches classes at Montana Tech in political science and political theory.